A new poem by Alice Notley

May 10, 2017  By Alice Notley


The century or year or night one might bloom a miracle
A night-blooming cereus white   this could heal you
Or decorate the new abyss turn the year backwards un-
Fasten its manacles we have a different year on Jupiter
These transgressions in their authentic beauty digress
Like a pasted-on feather I want to know if I’m healing
Him oh so talented dead man illiterate unlettered I say
In the dark club playing his unlettered guitar as I stand on
This corner I’ve got two containers you’ve got two dogs
I’m supposed to know why in order to heal you or him am I
Let’s not concentrate on what it means dead guys with
Past to be unpasted pressed over with letters who can
Read them and random sequins mounted whole pet-
Ite you are blocking the way of the killer I’m dead now you
Say to your harmless dogs in the halogen faintness of my
Thought have I healed you yet I’ll continue to try
On the street corner behind broken ice whatever planet


If it’s a feeling I have to heal or if it’s a disease
If it’s the torpid depths of your eyes you don’t have here
If it’s your loss of self-location the safe house I counter
With an electric provocation my own talent the
Speech of a riff or bladed number like thirteen blue
Paste that on if I can enter our mind and stay just a-
While to tell you you don’t need what happened on the pla-
Net of brutal futile actions throw them away the dust-risen
Thinking of illusorily-limbed bodies half-
Erased creatured of woe we lumber
And I left home oh and stumbled over tragedy a sack of in-
Edible pebbles I’m sorry you have some hurt throw it away
We call guilt up every morning one says put it there and let
It be there let it follow you until it’s gone grief
I can heal you illiterate reader the night is my eye


Is the healing a thing can you see or listen to as whispering
Allowed in at the universal we’re all the abyss all there
Crowded staircase could be descended to dark grace no
Someone pleading for comment on her poem on shiny paper with
Rosette sticker paste it on the void I said I’ve been given the
Rosetta Stone stolen the secret crystal you are a pun and I too
Thus healable manu à manuscript fiery about your invisible head it
Off I am healing you with paste it on the collage danger
Anger’d backwards frightened till he as if menial
Tried to slip away crowded as if he could be forgotten
No one will be and you must exist dead or alive
I stole healing slab of crystal kept in a grey pouch don’t
Come in here a voice said but I have brought back every dimen-
Sion that I am mentioning till I find the one in the pun you are
No one gets out of here unhealed
The force of the rosetteOr any cheap posy or portrait of a being paste
It on the healing and project all your old identities as if
One of them might be you project the one with unkempt hair
And the one punk where authoritative with a knife or
The one of you softened I put it on the one with no one gets
Out of here unhealed battered by grief bastard you’re rife
With spirits of the murdered or dread like a capo everyone’s
No one gets out of here a fake was everyone and caped I’m
Healing you of all your fakery burden of that
Which one was the real and is it re I Al or is it you or
Oo the two empty eyes I pun till it’s genuine
For I can heal any rag of soul slime cloth
A bucket-headed dunce of a dancing jackass confidential
Here you are don’t any person planet cloud or sublimation of a one
try to slip away


It comes from the dissolution of action what happened you were ineffectual
Incapable inasmuch as an abyss with old images gliding over you
I murdered and harmed you say   Stupid your victims are all alive here
I had vile motives   There is no such thing as a motive you were
As you see an empty snakeskin a hack’s diary lived
The account of your deeds virtuous or ruffianly is boring
Your attempts at constructing a character have failed likeness non-
Existent there is nothing established consider yourself ethereal
And if the stars melt could they call out heal me of my
Bulk and burning heal me of my properties punned my
Light you who suppose I have never thought or knew I was on fire


You who are dead here I say forget all but new memory
Remember from now remember from nothing to recall
While I walk on faux tiles of Paris my mind glides
The nothing that loves me grins like a bat I am healing you
Terrapin shell heartless non-one the shoals of hypochondria
Only beauty never tepid always neutral lives at the first
I claim everything as my abyss in order to heal you
I haven’t any idea who you are praying mantis paramecium
Faces or fecal in the heavens orange choral shouts
I don’t care what you did or have I search for the one lang-
Uage to heal in which infants recognize when anyone sings
The terpsichorean weeps from raging as another
Is that it an act yes tears chrysalises of graced
Thing which comes in the aftermath but this is only
What we are creating and you who still live are here
Too in the part of your mind you’re unconscious of
Beyond the old words this collage pun re-cognates
What you once knew starting now tipped to a reconnaissance
Like fingertips or pebbled surface knowing a mirror’s essence
Because we’ve all always known each other shudder at the moon
You have to be here lily-breathed or punctual
Projecting the fungal or fiery with what sounds or
Thought I’ve always heard you blackness speaking


And I go in there abyss or us and paste on a heart for it
After I see it or rosette or transfusion any red word
What do you care you aren’t your forms
What do you care if you dreamed your enactment or life
After I see and after I see it so I can heal you the universe
The imagery we’d made of origin had been catastrophic
But what I enter is a pearl a round chamber of whiteness
I alive can only see as if I were in perfect luminescence
I mean I am in it or am it nothing happens in the void
Nothing ever happened except in your dream of a creation
I sit in this pun and I touch its curved wall speaking
I sit in origin not an explosion but tthisss


It didn’t have to be or did it out of this chamber if I’m telling
A myth or truth only a point of origination you can’t break
Me I’d say then words materialize on the white wall
Do you hear what the voice says they say it’s my voice
Oozed out in faintness then healed what is heal to come back
To this hole I was in it I changed her diaper pun and gave her back to you
Each one was one and I can understand whatever you say or think
Because I don’t have to the waves aren’t water
His eyes closed when he talks to me could be a word from any language
You have come here to heal where nothing happened except for a voice
a perfect quality you are


One says it might be you healing between the syllables
Abacus with segmental notions would one need
Would one need to flower flow or congeal like a rock
One need to be in layers or sparkling clusters unseen
Would one need to be seen or unseen heard or unheard
Touched or left solid and still inside a cloud red for no one
You know you can never die   that doesn’t heal
And you have loved many times   that doesn’t heal
You have an identity apart from your loves that might heal
That in its vastness connects with theirs again
The vastness can you touch it without skin or organ
Why are you living what other and the waves again of no water
Simple each line in beauty though the rubies be hemoglobic
Not every entity bleeds and the scratched excrescences
Of words from the inner surface of the pearl return
The first healing first heal the first to be is first to heal
The first rupture it doesn’t say that it says I break through
A free black slick-coated prairie dog running in boundlessness


Spidery or unilinear like scabs of scratched drawings
Healed as soon as they’re born sores or breaks in nacre I’m
Healing you leading you and healing almost the same word
Breaking open with something vulnerable to know
To memorize a motion a structure I am healing you
Inside the whiteness of your eyes a thing blazes known
Torn admired those can be rot maddened ever in
Principle quality-less you hear my heart of figures
There is nothing there but a sound for what ears
There is nothing there but smoothness for whose fingertips
Mental for a mind I am healing you a mind
What did you think the mind was another thought ‘oral cult’
The overriding impressed so that you forgot going west
I qualify Elijah as a train break enter like light
There can’t be any real light what would be real light
The airplanes in the letters spelling pick up the receiver
I am trying to reach appeal to you I am healing you
Across your dusky chest with all these words in it
Knitted together like a better flesh I am healing you
There’s the unfindable waving how many fingers
I’m told the language I seek is hidden where I am


At the point where in a forest you became flesh the words ap-
Peared back and forth between skin and words sound and
Air your body transport remember there was no environment
It was green stagelike a void and one was a knight with a k
And one was a night with an n I am a knight or night
Come to meet you unpressed for time perhaps wrinkled or winks
We were images of people you were painted I was eyes
In the forest of void near the winkles near the coast
Everything washes over some seeps in purificatory
My words keep coming towards your pain until it’s an il-
Lusion break into your heart scab over and are written
Are you literate does your memory read I will never be bet-
Ter if I can’t remember who I was before I was written on
Marked and erased me my heart made so narrow
I remember these old old words to who soul pierce
The sound of where one sat near the waterless sea
All of us call come here and be healed of displeasure
Healed of extreme distress of disease imbalance and fit-
Fulness healed of every mark that hasn’t a source in your
Spirit healed of ruptures between substances these words
Are pure without cynical precedent or calculation
I obtain for you the blessing of others we heal and holding are you
Falling away so you can remember all words ever spo-
Ken in any language remember thoughts all thoughts
For you can in one instant be healed knowing everything
Remembering everyone and finally remembering who you are

Alice Notley
Alice Notley
Alice Notley has published over forty books of poetry, including (most recently) Benediction, Negativity’s Kiss, and Certain Magical Acts. She has received many awards including the Academy of American Poets’ Lenore Marshall Prize, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Award, the Griffin International Prize, two NEA Grants, the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She lives and writes in Paris, France.

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